Millennials Are Moving and North Dakota Plans on Keeping Them

5 Apr 2019

Millennials. A word tossed around in professional and social circles alike. Now arguably America’s largest workforce, the Baby Boomers have passed them the title ‘largest generation of Americans.’ Definitions for this group vary. A strong ballpark places the generation’s endpoints anywhere from mid 80’s and early 90’s to the year 2000. While who they are may be debatable, there is no question to one thing: a good percentage of Millennials are on the move. This shift has people sitting up and taking notice; everyone wants this migrating generation to settle with them. To do this, some strategy is needed. It’s important to understand why they are moving, where are they going and, once they get there, what can be done to ensure they stay.

Do we understand the Millennial?

It’s hard to know what to believe about Millennials; the overall impression is that they are lazy, entitled, and killing American culture one day at a time. If this is the case, then why do so many communities work to attract them? In truth, we know that there is a lot more to Millennials than what floats around in popular culture. We know that they can be a vibrant addition to any community and want them here. To attract them, it is important to dig deeper and learn more about what makes Millennials tick. Every week there’s a new ground-shattering revelation about their lifestyle choices —but the most conflicting reports have to do with where they live; and why. As a business or community leader, here is what you need to know.

It’s true. Many Millennials are moving out of bigger cities.

Interesting data has begun presenting itself by way of the 2014 census that is showing trends in Millennial movement. Millennials are in fact moving out of large metropolitan areas and heading for communities they can make their own. Thanks to this generation’s size and influence, Millennials are moving to new places made just for them, by them—revitalizing smaller cities or opting for hybridized urban-burb enclaves where quality of life is the driving force.

According to this report by the Brookings Institution, North Dakota holds the highest ranking percentage of Millennials in the nation. Knowing exactly what they have, the state has instituted a program, Main Street ND, to encourage and assist communities in attracting and retaining the Millennial.

What does this mean for our community? Put simply, there is continued opportunity to make Jamestown and Stutsman County more Millennial-friendly. That could involve giving Millennials who are already here, the opportunity to contribute their ideas, talents, and vision to changing how our community and local businesses operate.

What do these communities look like, and how can other communities begin to attract the Millennial workforce?

teamworkFirst off, Millennials are leaving their metropolitan and urban homes due to the high costs of living. Millennials are interested in living within their financial means, even if that requires making lifestyle changes. In doing so, they won’t buy a home or rent without it fitting into their budget. What’s happening with Millennials in cities is really just part of a larger issue involving the rising cost of housing, food and entertainment in already-expensive cities.

Second, Millennials are fascinated with the revitalization of cities and smaller communities. They have a strong drive for a sense of community and culture, and one way to cultivate that for a Millennial driven workforce is to have programs that allow them to be involved. There is an energy around Millennials that come together wanting to be creators and be able to put their stamp on projects or even a community. Having a community that is already underway with restoration projects, support programs, and culture is key for attracting and retaining this workforce.

Lastly, Millennials are beginning to take control of their futures unlike any generation before them. They are the generation that has started more businesses per capita, retained more income in savings, and is continuously shopping at smaller boutique stores and markets as opposed to box stores.

What does this mean for communities?

A community must adhere to the culture that the Millennials are trying to create; this means a host of potentials like Saturday markets, artisan events, a vibrant downtown with restaurants and shopping, as well as items like great schools and community organizations.

coffee shopCommunities looking to attract and retain millennials are in need of three pieces:

  1. Affordable housing selection
  2. Community revitalization efforts
  3. Culture that satisfies their ideals

Millennials are driving change in the suburbs, revitalizing smaller cities, and making their corner of the world a better place. When 79 million Americans want to make their communities even a little bit better, it is a good thing for the country. Attracting them to Jamestown and Stutstman County is a good thing for us. We invite local businesses and organizations to work with Jamestown/Stutsman Development Corporation on creating and implementing strategies for attracting Millennials and helping them to feel like an important part of our community.